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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"In January, Christiane Amanpour was covering the inauguration in Washington D.C. for CNN International when she was struck with an idea for a long-form project. President Barack Obama had said in his inaugural address that he wanted a new way forward for the Islamic world, and that the United States could no longer afford to have another generation of Muslims who view the U.S. as the enemy. She wondered: Would the next generation of young Muslims in the Middle East inevitably feel antagonistic towards the U.S.? Or were there tangible, effective ways of winning over their loyalties? Ms. Amanpour spent much of the next 8 months reporting on those questions, and tonight at 9 p.m. on CNN, she'll unveil her findings in a two-hour documentary titled 'Generation Islam' .. "The big aggregate news that is good and optimistic is that militant-ism and extremism is declining," said Ms. Amanpour . 'Whether it's in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the percentages are plummeting. That's where the opportunity lies. Now is the time to grab that opportunity. Nation building is not a luxury,' she added. 'It's an absolute imperative. And it can be done. The payback of success is huge and long lasting.'" (Observer)



"A dark storm is brewing yet again in Russia's North Caucasus. For the most part, the world pays little attention to this violent little backwater. That is, unless something truly catastrophic happens -- such as the time, 7 years ago, when masked gunmen from Chechnya held hundreds hostage in a downtown Moscow theater. That standoff ended with 129 of the hostages dead, asphyxiated by gas released in a rescue attempt. Or, five years ago this September, when hundreds of children were held captive in Beslan, North Ossetia, by guerillas strapped with guns, grenades, and -- ultimately - dripping in blood. Three excruciating days later, hundreds died in a botched rescue operation. The murders of journalists, lawyers, and human rights and humanitarian activists rate even less attention. Three years ago, when investigative journalist Anna Politkovaskaya was murdered in her apartment building in Moscow one Saturday afternoon, shock and outrage emanated from Washington and capitals across Europe. Everyone thinks she was killed for her investigative journalism on the North Caucasus. But a long period of ambivalence, indifference, and silence followed that brief spasm of anger." (ForeignPolicy)



"President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people at the White House on Wednesday, among them the first African American to win a Best Actor Oscar, Sidney Poitier. Calling Poitier -- who won a Best Actor Oscar for 1963's 'Lillies of the Field' and a nomination for 1959's 'The Defiant Ones' -- an 'ambassador and actor,' the president in a statement said he "has left an indelible mark on American culture." (TheWrap)



"I was already a huge John Hughes fan from his writing in National Lampoon. He had this incredible gift for dialing into sort of the adolescent male mindset. He just so totally got it. It was frightening. And then I met him and realized, Ah-ha! He’s one of us! There’s a reason he gets it .. The saddest part for me is that I have no doubt in my mind that I owe my career to the guy. That I never thanked him properly is a regret I’ll carry with me." (Jon "Duckie" Cryer/Popwatch)



"MARY-Kate and Ashley Olsen had an awesome double date the other night. Mary-Kate and her artist boyfriend, Nate Lowman, were spotted at Strip House with Ashley and her man, Justin Bartha. They were celebrating Bartha's birthday and ended the night at the Jane Hotel, where 'Mary-Kate and Nate were making out and tickling each other like 5-year-olds,' said our spy. The source said the couples ended the night on the hotel's private balcony 'chain-smoking cigarettes until after 4 a.m.'" (PageSix)



"For a cable series that's seven years old, even a celebrated one like USA's 'Monk,' one would expect its eighth and final season debut to be down, and it was, but not by very much. The premiere, which aired at 9 p.m. Friday, drew 5.14 million total viewers, making it the top show on cable for that hour and second only to NBC’s 'Dateline' on broadcast. That's just 8 percent fewer viewers than the 5.6 million who tuned in for season seven's premiere and not all that much lower than the 5.77 million total viewers the detective series averaged at its peak in season six. In 18-to-49 viewers, 'Monk' averaged 1.47 million viewers. 'Monk' helped USA handily win the week in basic-cable primetime, with an average of 4.12 million viewers, well ahead of No. 2 TNT with 2.73 million. In fact, this was the channel’s highest-rated week ever." (Medialifemagazine)



"Last night down at Cinema 2, there was a special screening of 'The Baader Meinhof Complex' based on Stefan Aust’s book. The screening was organized by Peggy Siegal with Charlie Rose, Boykin Curry, Richard Cohen and John Darnton, along with the Atlantic, hosting. After the screening, there was a Q & A between Boykin Curry and author Aust. Serious business. The turnout was a combination of the New York intelligento-glitterati including Julie Taymor, Elie Wiesel, Bennett Miller, Albert Maysles, Joel Klein and Nicole Seligman, Mort and Linda Janklow, Comm. Ray Kelly, Susan Brownmiller, Armand Assante, Candice Bergen and Marshall Rose, Marshall Brickman, Harry Evans and Tina Brown." (NYSocialDiary)



"And so wingnuts are on the march across the country; armed with the loss of perspective that comes with hyperpartisanship, they demonize and dehumanize their political opponents. With their unhinged armies focused solely on faction, it’s the country we should be most concerned about. There is nothing more American than civil disobedience, but uncivil disobedience and hate-fueled politics becomes a cancer that can consume our body politic. Summer is when violence erupts, murders spike and cities burn down. There always seems to be an August surprise that changes the political calculus overnight in unwelcome ways. Just Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report saying Timothy McVeigh-style militia groups are on the rise, fueled by the stress of a bad economy and a liberal administration led by a black president. In the nine weeks since Kansas Dr. George Tiller was murdered in a church, allegedly by antiabortion activist Scott Roeder, we’ve seen a serious serial degradation in our civic discourse, pumped up by professional polarizers in the media and politics. In the world of counterterrorism, this could be considered the equivalent of increased 'chatter'—indicators of an increased likelihood of attack." (TheDailyBeast)



"'Mad Men' enters its third session billed as the 'sexiest' show on television. The season premiere, which airs Sunday at 10 p.m. New York time on AMC, may inspire viewers to break a few erotic sweats, while others may be reminded that sex isn’t all moonlight and roses. Near the start, for instance, a rustic lass warns her incipient bedmate that if she gets 'in trouble' she’s going to slice off his pride 'and boil it in hog fat.' Talk about performance anxiety. For the most part, however, all remains swell among the staff of the Manhattan-based Sterling Cooper advertising agency. Without revealing too much of the story line, at one point creative director and gigolo-in-chief Don Draper (Jon Hamm), dapper as ever, works his mojo with a foxy blonde airline stewardess (the show is set in the 1960s) while closeted colleague Salvatore Romano (Bryan Batt) jumps the bones of a hotel guy sent up to fix the air conditioner." (Bloomberg)

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